Preparations increase as rivers rise
BASALT ” The Crystal River’s water level jumped 2 feet overnight Tuesday to approach flood stage but authorities reported no problems.
The Crystal jumped from slightly higher than 3 feet to more than 5 feet early Wednesday before the water level started receding, according to gauging station information posted on the Internet by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The river’s flow was at 2,240 cubic feet per second (cfs) Wednesday, the highest for that date in 52 years. The previous record was 1,770, the USGS site said.
Vern Holmes, emergency management coordinator for the Carbondale Fire Department, said he drove along the Crystal River between Carbondale and Redstone on Wednesday and found no flooding problems. Only low lying lands were forecast to get soggy. Pitkin County deputies will monitor the river level in the early morning hours, when waters often rise the most, Holmes said.
Redstone had sand delivered to Elk Park, in the center of town, and has 1,000 bags available for homeowners, Holmes said.
Emergency management officials said they expect waters in rivers and streams throughout the Roaring Fork Valley basin to be up to the banks sometime this morning. The National Weather Service issued flood advisories for Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties Wednesday and into Thursday. There is a flood warning for Gunnison County to the south of Aspen.
Pitkin County Emergency Management Coordinator Ellen Anderson said the weather service told her Wednesday morning that rivers and streams could reach a peak “of this episode” between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Thursday, then cooler weather will prevail and water levels will fall. She stressed that the overall peak for the spring will most likely come later.
The forecast spurred Pitkin County to issue a notice of high water Wednesday afternoon.
“Emergency Management officials say minor flooding is eminent with warming temperatures increasing the pace of spring runoff in Castle Creek, Maroon Creek, Roaring Fork, Fryingpan and Crystal river valleys,” the notice said. The county urged people to call 911 only with flooding emergencies.
Meanwhile, the town of Basalt and neighborhoods in the midvalley were preparing for high water.
Basalt dumped 10 tons of sand at the Taqueria el Nopal restaurant’s parking lot and another 10 tons near The Basalt Store, according to Town Manager Bill Efting. Another 5 tons was dumped by Swinging Bridge Lane. The town will provide sandbags that homeowners can fill if the need arises, he said.
At least three midvalley neighborhoods also are providing sand for residents. Neighbors at River Oaks, an area of million-dollar homes along the Roaring Fork River, have gathered the last two weekends to fill bags and place them in the yards of homes most susceptible to flooding.
Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park Manager Debbie Alcorta told the county incident management team this week that 30 junk cars and multiple truckloads of debris were removed from the trailer park recently to prevent flood waters from pooling.
Sand and sandbags have been purchased by the owners of both the Pan and Fork and the nearby Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park, according to Efting.
The trailer park owners have been notified to keep their residents informed about the possibility of evacuation to the Eagle County Community Center, where the Red Cross will direct them to temporary shelter. Rising ground water presents a greater threat at the two trailer parks then the Roaring Fork River itself, emergency management officials said.
“If we have standing water that reaches utility connections underneath trailers, for instance, we’ll shut off the gas and electricity and begin evacuating residents,” said Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson.
One of the best ways to monitor river flows in the Roaring Fork Valley is via the website at http://www.sopris.net. Click on the prominent “Get Outside” box for access to flows throughout rivers in western Colorado.
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A technical glitch Monday that led to long waits for COVID-19 booster shots at a clinic at Buttermilk should be fixed in the near future, and any Pitkin County resident who wants a booster will get one.